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National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) Holds First Ever Triennial

By Kevin Basl

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On May 3, 2018, veterans from around the country came to Chicago to share art, poetry, performances, and ideas. The Veteran Art Summit, the opening event of On War & Survival: National Veterans Art Museum Triennial, happened at three venues across the city: National Veterans Art Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, and DePaul Art Museum.

With a focus on the visual, literary, performative, and creative practices of veterans, the ongoing NVAM Triennial explores the past century of war and survival, while challenging the perception that war is something only those who have served in the military can comprehend. Throughout history, art has provided a frame to create meaning out of the complicated experience of war, seek justice, and imagine reconciliation. The NVAM Triennial draws on this history to connect today's veteran artists with the history of veteran creative practices and their impact on society over the past century.

Funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, five veteran curatorial fellows (Amber Hoy, Yvette Pino, Carlos Sirah, Edgar Gonzalez-Baeza, and myself), along with organizer Aaron Hughes and graduate students from the Museum and Exhibition Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, worked for over a year to make the Triennial and Summit happen.

The Triennial continues until July 29, 2019. Visit the National Veterans Art Museum and the Chicago Cultural Center to see several galleries of veteran artwork. For more information, including a list of participating artists, visit: www.nvam.org/triennial.

Kevin Basl is a writer and musician living near Ithaca, NY. He is a member of About Face (IVAW) and Veterans for Peace.

NVAM Triennial Promotional Collage.
Top row, left to right: Rodney Ewing, Otto Dix, Jacob Lawrence.
Bottom row, left to right: Jim Leedy, Jessica Putnam-Phillips, Ehren Tool.

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